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The Marsh Lake Monster, Yukon Territory



Arctic & Northern History



The Weekly Star, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory - Friday, January 3, 1913

Exciting Mystery - Monster Animal or Serpent Exists Near Marsh Lake, 1913

    From a party of trappers and hunters, all honest, truth-loving white men, who are wintering in the McClintock Lake country which lies from thirty to forty miles east of Lake Marsh, comes a hair-raising story of the existence in that locality of a monster creature whose classification is difficult. Whether it be animal or serpent is not yet determined.

    About two weeks ago two of the trappers were out visiting their twenty-mile circuit of traps and when in the neighborhood of McClintock Lake, they came upon a depression in the freshly fallen snow which appeared as though it had been made by dragging a Peterboro canoe, the depression being about thirty inches in width and as deep as the snow - in fact, the earth beneath the snow where the trail was made was worn smooth and, where the body of the unknown creature had passed over logs and roots, they were scorched as though having been heated to the verge of taking fire.

    Forgetting all about their traps the frightened trappers made for their cabin and informed their companions of their strange discovery. An invading party was at once formed and five men armed with repeating rifles and skinning knives, went in pursuit of the monster. The trail was struck and followed in a southeasterly direction for twelve or fifteen miles when it lead into a narrow but deep, rocky canyon. Unfortunately there was no snow in the canyon, and no logs and other debris to be scorched by the huge monster passing over them, so the trail could not be followed further. The trappers made a detour of the canyon, however, and so convinced themselves that the creature was still in the canyon, but they deemed it imprudent to press the investigation any further.

    As evidence that the monster is of great length, the trailers came to a point where a shelf of rock twenty feet high had been encountered by the creature and which it had evidently taken without any trouble, but the trail in the snow had stopped thirty feet away from the shelf, proving that it had simply reared its head and glided on while propably three-fourths of its body was on the ground. But having the base and perpendicular, the hypotenuse can be arrived at by any of our school children and if the answer gives but one-fourth the length of the creature, the entire length may be obtained by a mathematical computation.

    It was particularily noticed by the trappers that the trail of the serpent or beast, whichever it may be, was pregnant with a sulpherous odor that was at times almost unbearable. Also, it was noted that the trail was not straight, but inclined to be spiral, indicating that the creature propelled itself like a serpent. At any rate, no claw marks fringed the edge of the trail which leads to the belief that the maker of it moved serpent-fashion or was a stern-wheeler. At various places the monster body had been dragged around the base of giant trees and in such places the bark was worn away and the sulphurous odor was almost stifling.

KNOWN THREE YEARS AGO

    This is not tbe first time the trail of the monster has been seen, great excitement having been created in practically the same locality three years ago, when a lone trapper came across it near McClintock lake and followed it for many miles. In fact, he was supposed at the time to have been very close to the creature, as the sulphurous smell was so strong that he declined to follow further. Camping in the locality the following night, he saw flame and smoke arising from a nearby canyon where it was afterward proven no one had been near for months. At that time a herd of moose which frequented that part of the country suddenly disappeared and, as no tracks led away from it, it wa believed the strange serpent or animal made a meal of them. There were known to be twelve moose in the herd.

    Were it not for the fact that the trail made by the monster is devoid of claw marks, it might be argued that it is a survivor of the dinosaurus family, which existed in prehistoric days, a similar creature having been seen by George Dupoy, the celebrated French writer on Yukon, in the Stewart river country several years ago.

INDIAN LORE AND SUPERSTITION

    Three years ago when the mysterious trail was reported east of Lake Marsh, old Indians recalled a story handed down by their forbears of a monster creature that was killed in the neighborhood of Miles Canyon about three hundred years ago. It was in the dead of a terrific winter when it was too cold to hunt and gaunt famine lay heavily on the hearts and homes of the people. Ghosts of their forefathers made nightly pilgrimages to the village and the icy hand of adversity gripped the whole tribe by the nape of the neck. One night in January a mighty tumult arose in the south end of the village where a gigantic creature, never seen or heard of before, had appeared and was eating its way along Main street, swallowing wigwams and all they contained. The mouth of the monster was described as being similar to the intake of a thresher, except that the teeth were longer and closer together. Only three braves of the entire tribe escaped. They returned the next day to take stock of the camp. Everything had been swallowed by the monster, and the latter, sated with having eaten several dozen people and tons of camp fixtures, lay in a stupor on the verge of the canyon. Native resourcefulness was resorted to. A fire was built on the monster's tail, over 400 feet from headquarters. Fagots were piled high. As it was some time before the peril of the tail was communicated to the head, about forty feet of the latter was burned off before the head began to take notice, when, having lost its rudder, it essayed to crawl away, but rolled over the bluff and was drowned in the rushing waters of the canyon which never freeze even in the most severe winters.

    The huge body lodged on a sand bar under the ice just below the rapids and the Indians say that the air from that direction was very impure for the next seven years.

    It may be that the maker of the mysterious trail in the neighborhood of McClintock Lake is the survivor of the same family that devastated the Indian village at the head of the canyon early in the sixteenth century. At any rate, the Indians have not hunted and trapped in the country east of Lake Marsh since the mysterious trail was discovered three years ago, and now that it has been seen again, it is doubtful if they ever return to that locality, which abounds in game and fur.